Saint Barnabas, Apostle
Acts 11:21-26; 13:1-3;Psalm 98:1-6; Matthew 5:17-19
He rejoiced and encouraged them all to remain faithful to the Lord. (Acts 11:23)
Do you know anybody who goes mainly by a nickname? Sometimes a nickname does such a good job of capturing someone’s personality that no one seems to remember his or her given name! That seems to have been the case with Barnabas, whose real name was Joseph (Acts 4:36). From what we see in the Book of Acts, Barnabas, which means “son of encouragement,” certainly deserved this new name!
Barnabas was particularly encouraging to a fellow named Saul of Tarsus—the great St. Paul. When the apostles were still afraid of Saul, Barnabas vouched for him, and won acceptance for Saul from the believers in Jerusalem. Then, when Barnabas was sent to Antioch to help shepherd the growing church there, he tracked Saul down in Tarsus, one hundred miles away, and brought him back to Antioch to help build up these new believers. From there, Saul and Barnabas travelled together widely and helped spread the gospel in many new places.
When we think about these early days of the Church, Paul’s name comes to mind a lot quicker than Barnabas’ name. But without Barnabas, Paul might never have become the great missionary that we read about in Acts. He might never have written the letters that have stirred people for centuries. He might never have pushed the boundaries of the Church into so many uncharted lands!
God often works this way. The Church is filled with unsung heroes, men and women who serve the Lord in hidden ways but whose dedication and service make all the difference in the world.
Has God called you to some unnoticed, “hidden” work in his Church? It may be a ministry of intercession, a ministry of support and encouragement, even the ministry of raising your children in the faith. No one will see all that you do. No one will praise you for your hard work and dedication. And few people apart from your immediate circle of family and friends will thank you. But God sees. God knows. And he is filled with delight.
“Lord, I belong to you! Thank you for the calling you have given me. Help me to fulfill it with the same peace and dedication that Barnabas had.”~WAU